The No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice rolled into Atlanta today, welcomed by a rally MC’ed by Queerfit’s own Glo. This most beautiful vehicle, the UndocuBus…

…carrying Andres, Angel, Daniela, Eleazar, Gerardo, Ireri, Isela, Jorge, Julio, Letty, Maria Cruz, Marichu, Miguel, Natally, and Perla, left Phoenix, AZ on August 1 and is on a looping route east towards the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC.

Along the way, the UndocuBus riders have been encouraging other undocumented men and women to live sin papeles, sin miedo.

But living without fear is easier said than done.  The immigration laws are grossly unfair and outdated, allowing some people (like my aunts and uncles) to become U.S. citizens in a few years, but forcing others (like Xochitl’s brothers and sisters) to wait more than twenty years to even get a visa.  For millions who think of America as home, including most of the riders of the UndocuBus, existing laws and wait lists mean there is effectively no process that will allow them to get legal status, until and unless the law is changed.

Congress has refused to update the immigration laws.  Instead of halting deportations in the meantime, though, the Department of Homeland Security has increased arrests and deportations.  In this environment, how do you get to the place where you can live sin miedo?

The same way you get to Carnegie Hall. Practice, practice practice. Here is Maria and other riders disrupting Kris Kobach in Birmingham, underlining the absurdity of the US Commission on Civil Rights inviting testimony from the author of Arizona’s anti-civil rights SB1070. Here is Yovany Diaz from Georgia, joining the ride for his mom.  Here they are conversating with civil rights veterans and the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice.

Molly Ivans credits this story to her friend and fellow lefty white Texan Johnny Henry Faulk:

Johnny used to tell a story about when he was a Texas Ranger, a captain in fact. He was seven at the time. His friend Boots Cooper, who was six, was sheriff, and the two of them used to do a lot of heavy law enforcement out behind the Faulk place in south Austin. One day Johnny’s mama, having two such fine officers on the place, asked them to go down to the hen house and rout out the chicken snake that had been doing some damage there.

Johnny and Boots loped down to the hen house on their trusty brooms (which they tethered outside) and commenced to search for the snake. They went all through the nests on the bottom shelf of the hen house and couldn’t find it, so the both of them stood on tippy-toes to look on the top shelf. I myself have never been nose-to-nose with a chicken snake, but I always took Johnny’s word for it that it will just scare the living shit out of you. Scared those boys so bad that they both tried to exit the hen house at the same time, doing considerable damage to both themselves and the door.

Johnny’s mama, Miz Faulk, was a kindly lady, but watching all this, it struck her funny. She was still laughin’ when the captain and the sheriff trailed back up to the front porch. “Boys, boys ” said Miz Faulk, “what is wrong with you? You know perfectly well a chicken snake cannot hurt you.”

That’s when Boots Cooper made his semi-immortal observation. “Yes ma’am,” he said, “but there’s some things’ll scare you so bad, you hurt yourself.”

Lots of things scare you so bad, you hurt yourself.  If getting deported is one of those things, be at Plaza Fiesta tomorrow at 2:00 to meet up with the riders of the UndocuBus and a few thousand of their friends.

If exercise is one of those things that scare you so bad, you hurt yourself, be at queerfit tomorrow at 10:00.  You know where – the little patch of grass north of the Inman Park/Reynoldstown MARTA station.

You’ll leave a lot sweatier and a little braver.  See y’all tomorrow!